Welcome to the Strangers on a Train blog tour! Strangers on a Train is a series of five short, sexy romance novellas that take place on (or near!) trains. It was born when authors Samantha Hunter and Ruthie Knox started riffing on a “Hot Guys on a Train,” a Tumblr featuring photos of unsuspecting (hot) male subjects as they ride the rails to work. Serena Bell joined the conversation, we roped in Meg Maguire and Donna Cummings, and the five of us brought the series to life. A big part of the fun has been seeing how different steamy love stories can be, even when they start from the same idea!
Today, we’re thrilled to be visiting Bookaholic Anon (Thank you, Steph!) to talk about our favorite real-life train experiences, just a sampling of the way that a train ride can stick in your head and get under your skin.
Donna Cummings: My favorite train ride has to be when I toured Europe on the Orient Express … oh, wait. That hasn’t happened yet! While I’ve been on several trains in the U.S., I have to admit my favorites were in England. I remember taking a train from London, enthralled with the hustle-bustle excitement of the train station, feeling like I was on a movie set. And I was impressed with the booth-like chairs with tables in the train cars—they were designed for writers! But who could write with such beautiful scenery to watch the entire four-hour ride? The best part was arriving at Edinburgh, at night, and stepping from the train station to see Edinburgh Castle looming over us, lit up in welcome. So far no other train trip has come close to that for magnificence. Just one more reason I need to give that Orient Express a try.
Samantha Hunter: I’ve never traveled on a train, unlike the heroine in my novella, Tight Quarters, but I love riding them around cities. I have some fond memories of traveling on city trains, since I usually do it as a tourist, not a commuter (that takes the fun out of it, from what I hear). One of my fondest experiences of riding subways was when I went to Boston with my husband and he was on a business trip, leaving me to amuse myself during the daytime for several days. It was the first time I was on my own in a city, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I set out on the adventure, starting with learning the subway.
The Boston T has to be the most user-friendly train system I’ve ever used. It’s so clean, bright, and easy to navigate (versus the NYC subway, which I love with a special kind of love, being a native New Yorker, but it’s not easy to get around in). In Boston, I went everywhere—Harvard, Fenway, museums, parks, and stores. I sat on the steps of Harvard Library, read a book in the Public Garden while watching the swan boats, and rode the trains while looking over the landscape of the city. I may have missed a stop or two, but I could find my way back quite easily. By the end of the two days, I felt like I knew the train system like the back of my hand. One of the best moments was coming home from a Red Sox game on the train, awash in a wave of boisterous Red Sox fans…it was awesome. I was already a Red Sox fan, of course, but touring Boston solo on the T really helped me form a bond to that city. Definitely a great experience on a train!
Meg Maguire: As much passionate love/hate as I have for Boston’s T, my best train ride took place nine thousand miles away, in New Zealand. After a week in Wellington, I took a ferry to Picton and boarded the TranzCoastal train that winds through the South Island’s absurdly beautiful surrounds en route to Christchurch. I was traveling solo, and I spent the journey soaking up the nature-porn that streams past the windows, and sipping flat whites and cans of Speight’s. I remember an American family boarded, and the father slung a Red Sox duffel onto the luggage rail. But I kept my mouth shut. As some new friends had explained to me, Kiwis of my generation and older grew up with very few channels, and one the most popular things shown on one of those few channels was Cheers reruns—hence Bostonians are very well received in New Zealand. I had begun to feel rather popular. So I chose to ignore the Red Sox family, content in imagining I was the lone ambassador for my city currently touring the most beautiful country on Earth.
Serena Bell: It’s possible the reason I chose to write Ticket Home about a train commute is that I love the experience of learning a route so well that all its minor features become significant. My favorite train ride was my commute from Salem, Mass to Boston on the commuter rail out of North Station. I knew all the scenery by heart, but I also knew the soundtrack through and through. The individual conductors recited the stop names in their deep Boston accents, and it was a lovely incantation: Chelsea, Lynn, Swampscott, Salem, Beverly (sans “R”), north Beverly (ditto), Hamilton-Wenham-and-Ipswich—which is pronounced all as one sing-song word, “hamiltonwennumunIPswich.”
Then sometimes my husband and I took the train in the other direction, past Salem to Singing Beach, a white sand beach where the sand makes a squeaky singing sound, and that was a treat because instead of heading south through the grittier parts of the North Shore, you’d go north past gorgeous seaside territory. It was as if someone had magically inverted my commute so I could literally retreat from work.
Ruthie Knox: When I was in my early twenties, I spent most of a year living in London doing research for my dissertation. I lived in Greenwich, but during the week had to go to all these different archives—a month or two at the London Metropolitan Archive, a few months at the newspaper archive, and so on—which meant that most days I spent between forty and ninety minutes waiting for trains, riding trains, switching trains. My favorite was the Docklands Light Rail, which I often took from Greenwich to its stop at Bank on the London Underground.
One fun thing about the DLR was that a lot of men who worked in the City of London got on at Canary Wharf and rode the train in to work. I liked to ogle them in their fancy suits with their mobile phones. In my fantasies, I ended up meeting and dating one of these perfect English bank-working train men, and we had a lot of excellent sex and stayed together forever. This never actually happened, so I wrote a book about it instead—it’s called About Last Night.
But my *best* train ride took place when a male friend was visiting me during that year in London. We flew to Glasgow for the weekend and took the train into the city from the airport. We had a lot of fun on that train, and somewhere along the way I mentally tripped over that friends-to-lovers line that I thought only existed in books. Later, there was physical trippage, as well. Reader, I married him.
Strangers on a Train
April 2, 2013
Romancing the rails…
Tight Quarters by Samantha Hunter
Reid isn’t happy about the mix-up that saddles him with a claustrophobic roommate on his New York train tour. Then his weekend with Brenna progresses to a weekend fling, and so much more.
Ticket Home by Serena Bell
Encountering her workaholic ex on her commuter train is the surprise of Amy’s life. Especially since Jeff seems hell-bent on winning her back.
Thank You for Riding by Meg Maguire
At the end of Caitlin’s commute, her extended flirtation with a handsome stranger finds them facing a frigid winter night locked in an unheated subway station.
Back on Track by Donna Cummings
A wine tour isn’t enough to take Matt’s mind off his baseball slump—until sexy, funny Allie plops into the adjacent seat and tells him three things about herself. One of them, she says, is a lie. Then Allie lets slip one truth too many…
Big Boy by Ruthie Knox
Mandy doesn’t want romance, but monthly role-playing dates with her stranger on a train—each to a different time period—become the erotic escape she desperately needs. And a soul connection she never expected.